Samsung recently released their latest flagship Android tablet: the Samsung Tab S4. And it’s really pretty.
They were kind enough to send me one though and as is the usual here on this channel, I figured I’d do a complete walkthrough on it so you guys can have as much information as possible on it should you be in the market to buy one.
There’s a lot to go through, so let’s get started with the hardware.
The new Galaxy Tab S4 has a smooth glass back that I love the look of and has a great feel to it in general: solid, not too heavy, and sleek.
For colors, you have two options: either white or black.
On the front, we have a 10.5″ Super AMOLED with a resolution of 2560×1600 and relatively small bezels all around (Samsung and basically every tablet manufacturer cites the fact you need somewhere to hold on a tablet compared to a phone so that’s why we don’t see as small of bezels on tablets).
Above that screen, we have an 8MP front-facing camera with an F1.9 aperture that is capable of shooting 1080P video.
On the top and bottom, we have four AKG tuned speakers that are capable of surround sound using Dolby Atmos.
Also on the bottom, have our USB-C style USB 3.1, Gen 1 port that is capable of fast charging the 7300mah battery that Samsung says is capable of lasting up to 16 hours of video playback.
On the right side, we have our volume buttons, power button and our MicroSD card slot that also has the SIM card tray as well for LTE connectivity if you chose the LTE model instead off the WiFi only model.
On the left, we have our keyboard connector pins which we’ll talk about more in a sec.
Under the hood, we have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor paired with 4GBs of RAM and you have the choice of either a 64GB storage model or a 256GB storage model.
It supports all the Wifi 802.11 standards we’re used to up to 802.11ac, supports Bluetooth 5.0, and has far-field mics so if you wanted to stand it up somewhere you can use Google assistant and Bixby on it from across the room to control your SmartThings products (Samsung would like you to) or just use it like you would a Google Home.
In addition to the tablet itself we have two other pieces of hardware we need to talk about: one it comes with and one it doesn’t. First, the one it comes with, the new and improved S-Pen.
The new S-Pen now supports 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, thankfully comes with the tablet when you buy it, and has a 0.7mm tip.
We’ll get into the software tricks it can do in a bit but for now, it works with any of drawing apps, and just gives you a nice alternative input method which I appreciate.
Book Cover Keyboard
The other piece of hardware we need to mention is not included but is important if you want to use the tablet as Samsung imagines you will–they’re pushing it as a productivity device, going as far as to call it the tablet that becomes a PC.
It’s the book cover keyboard as they call it.
For an additional $149, you can get this keyboard that also doubles as a sort of case for the tablet. The device slides in and then connects to the keyboard using the connectors I mentioned before.
The keyboard itself has nice travel in the keys actually and thanks to the size of the tablet itself is a full sized keyboard basically which makes it comfortable to type on.
There’s one gripe I have about the keyboard though. Tell me what’s missing from it.
Yeah, there’s no trackpad and since it’s meant to be used with the device in Samsung Dex mode which is optimized for a mouse and keyboard (and we’ll talk about more in a sec in the software section) that means you have to carry around a Bluetooth mouse as well. Not a huge deal honestly as I prefer to use a mouse myself, but just a weird oversight on a device they want to be productive and portable, etc. no?
With that off my chest though, that brings us to the software on the Galaxy Tab S4, which is kinda clever.
The tablet is running Android O with Samsung’s UI on top. It’s the same Android O we’re used to seeing though so I won’t go into a full-blown walkthrough of Android here, let’s focus on the software that makes this tablet stand out. For that, we need to first turn our attention to Samsung Dex.
Dex, if you aren’t familiar is Samsung’s software that sort of converts Android into a more desktop-like experience. When it’s enabled, you get a desktop background that you can put icons on, along with a taskbar at the bottom with your status bar info in the bottom-right corner, and a start menu-esque button at the bottom0left that you can click to get to all of your Android apps.
Those apps also now open in their own resizable windows that you can stack and move around on the screen and even put side by side to more mimic a desktop and definitely makes it a way more productive way of working on the device when paired with the keyboard and a Bluetooth mouse.
While this feature was introduced on other Galaxy phones a while ago, they required a dock at the time and an external monitor. The big benefit with this tablet is that you can use Dex directly on it (with or without the keyboard even). And if you want, you can plug in an external monitor via a USB-C to HDMI cable (Samsung made a point to say you should use the Samsung adapter for this, but that it should work with other cables they just can’t guarantee it works with any besides the Samsung one, blah blah blah).
Dex is clever and having it on a tablet without needing an external monitor is definitely a more productive method of using Android than a traditional tablet mode.
As for testing, here are some of the common benchmark scores for anyone interested in using them too compare against other devices out there.
And there you go. I’d say the biggest selling points of the tablet are:
Build and Design – it’s super thin, super fast thanks to that processor, and just feels really nice in the hand.
Dex – even though it’s just software, it’s clever and definitely brings a level of productivity to an Android tablet that isn’t found on other devices.
Pen – being included is a nice addition and yet another way to interact with the device making it a bit more useful.
On the other side, for Samsung to call this a PC is a bit of a stretch and wanting it to be your productivity device that replaces your laptop when it costs $800 really if you add the keyboard is hard to swallow when there are pretty capable actual PCs for less than that (see my video on the Surface Go, for example).
The Tab S4 though is a great competitor against the iPad Pro though I think as it’s similarly priced (if not slightly cheaper thanks to the inclusion of the pen), the keyboard is similar, it uses apps instead of full-blown programs similarly, and yet with Dex it’s probably more productive in some ways than the iPad Pro. Just keep in mind that while both Samsung and Apple are trying to push that either device can replace your computer, they both similarly cannot.